This is where I come clean about my motivations for taking on this reading course:
I am well aware of the data (such as in the recent NEA report To Read or Not to Read: A Question of National Consequence) which presents seemingly alarming changes in children and adults’ reading behaviour. One of these trends is that reading for pleasure has decreased significantly. This finding saddens me, but does not surprise me. In fact, I fit the profile to a T.
I come from a family where reading was the chief source of entertainment, and my three siblings and I mutually encouraged this behaviour. Now, however, despite a continued interest in books, I struggle to sit down and read when I am not absolutely required to, not even to read a magazine article. I continue to buy books, but rarely get through them. When reading is required for a course, I can do it and gain enjoyment from the activity, which makes me question the phrase “reading for pleasure.” In my case the distinction is more between “voluntary” and “prescribed” reading. It is almost as though the enjoyable act of reading has become tainted by too much banal reading in my day-to-day life (i.e. memos, schedules, emails I don’t want to read but feel compelled to scan).
It is because of the situation described above that I have set up this reading course. If I am but a symptom of a larger systemic ailment, perhaps I can try out some possible cures on myself? In any case, although the topic fascinates me, I knew I wasn’t going to read any of this voluntarily, so I had no choice but to make my degree contingent on it…